I’m usually the sort of guy who is very irritated by people who correct my spelling. However on the other hand I’m also kind of happy that someone was kind enough to point out an error that I missed. Usually I can tell whether someone is being kind or snide, but this post is not about bad grammar or spelling, it’s about pronunciation. A not too distantly related subject but it’s specific to two words in particular. Normally I would not bother to write about such nit pick’s but in this case I am going to be dealing with foreign words, and so I feel justified in saying that we need to get them right when we say them. Plus these are two of my bugbears so TADAH! A ranting we shall go.
English speaking nations have a notorious reputation for “Barbarising” phrases of other nations, but the treatment of the word Guerrilla, Spanish for “Little War” is a particularly amusing one. For as you no doubt know it is popularly pronounced as if it was referring to the Greatest of the Apes. From TV newscasters to series’ and movies it is pronounced Gorilla, making it seem as if the phrase has more to do with the secretive nature of an endangered African animal than the strategy of Spanish insurgents. So just for the sake of sanity I’d like to set the record straight.
Gorilla: A large African Ape with great strength and intelligence, feeds on green leaves and lives in family groups lead by a dominant male called a silverback, pronounced as it is spelled.
Guerrilla: A type of low level but widespread insurgency usually conducted on a popular level, focused on hit and run attacks on an enemy’s weak points. Pronounced Gerr-ee-ya. With a hard G and usually a nice Spanish roll to the R’s if possible. At least that’s what I try to “Ape”.
My next one is a little more pedantic, and maybe I should be ashamed of myself for being picky, but it is the truth that you cannot watch any documentary about Samurai without hearing the word Bushido. And yes you’ve guessed it, most of the time English and American presenters are usually guilty of pronouncing it wrong. The word means “Way of the Warrior” and refers to the code by which a Samurai of feudal Japan conducted himself, interestingly enough Samurai is Japanese for (Servant).
The usual mistake when people pronounce this word is to lengthen it and overstate it, Boosheedo is usually what you hear but It’s actually quite a fast word and is pronounced Bushy-Doe. Yes it does conjure up an image of a verdant female deer but it’s true, honest.
Right then. That’s my little rant over with. It’s just a few things that bug me but never usually point out, and what’s a blog for if you can’t vent a little know and again.
Knowing my grasp of maths and arithmetic this will probably go pear shaped. But here’s some thoughts on Roman legionary supply trains from around the 1st Century AD.
There were 9 contubernium in each Century.
And that means 9 tents per century and one Centurion’s tent so 10, there’s no evidence where the Signifer or Optio slept, Goldsworthy say’s that The cramped leather (waterproof goatskin) tents used by the Contubernium’s where carried by Mule’s, which where tethered to the rear of the tent when in camp, assuming that “Marius’ Mules” carried all their personal equipment on their back’s They would probably have needed two real mule’s to carry the tent and poles for them and the centurion and heavy equipment such as axes, pickaxes, mallets, spades, turf cutters and quern stones for grinding grain, and possibly the large caltrops (tribuli), and Cowan say’s that the mule’s was taken care of by muleteer’s (military slaves called Calones). I gather then that each century would have a considerable baggage train.
So let’s have a go at breaking it down here.
1 Century has 10 tents, carried by 18 Mules based on two Mules for each contibernum in the care of either 9 or 18 muleteer’s (calones) who where probably assigned by the, prefect Castrorum.
Providing that enough animals where available, a nightmare of a job no doubt, this means that on paper one cohort of six centuries would have a baggage train of 108 Mules and a similar or double number of calones.
A legion of 10 cohort’s thought to number over 5,000 men, would have some 1,080 Mules and similar number of Calones coming after it. That is some supply train when you consider an army could consist of over three legions, plus double that number of auxiliaries. This also bearing in mind that Marius reformed the army so that each soldier carried more equipment on his back to cut down the amount of mules required, hence the soldiers were nicknamed with customary Latin wit, “Marius’ Mules”